The year 1972 ushered in Liza Minnelli’s Oscar winning performance in Cabaret, the technology breakthrough of Atari’s “PONG,” and the introduction of Hamburger Mary’s to the SoMa district of San Francisco.
The original Hamburger Mary’s was a funky, friendly dive put together on a shoe-string budget. With humble beginnings as an eclectic late-night beer and burger joint, Hamburger Mary’s quickly established itself as a staple in the LGBT community. The mismatched flatware & dishes, kooky artwork and antiques added to the kitsch and charm of the place. It was an “open-air bar and grille for open-minded people” (a motto we still use today), where everyone was welcome. The staff was always friendly and personable, and the food was always fresh and made-to-order.
Before long, a second location was opened in Hawaii, then other locations started popping up. Some were opened by the original S.F. owners, while others were granted licensing agreements to use the name. There were even a few “copy cats.” Collectively, this was the beginning of what has become the Hamburger Mary’s franchise system today.